The other day I was emailing with my cousin Kim, and she was telling me how proud of me she was, and she mentioned back to the visits we had together when I first got locked up over six years ago.
When I received my sentence, they gave me almost two months to turn myself in, so I could make it to my sister’s wedding. During those two months, I found out that I was being designated to Milan Federal Correctional Institution, and I announced it on Facebook. Soon after, I received an email from my cousin Kim, who is my late father Steve’s first cousin, making her my second cousin. She informed me in that message that she lived fairly close to the facility and would be open to visiting me, and if it went well would then continue to visit while I was incarcerated there. I said I was absolutely open to the visit. In that first visit, we hit it off, and she kept her word, coming almost every month for the 17 months I was there.
In the recent email, she reflected on those early visits. She said that she enjoyed them, but there was always a part of her that worried about my future. The words I used or the things I wanted to talk about caused her to worry, but she said the blog has put many of those worries at ease.
I asked her if she would write a post about it, and if you are reading this now, that most likely means she did just that. When I told my sister that Kim was going to write a post, she told me I should as well.
It’s good to reflect and think about the way I was thinking back when I started serving my sentence and to gauge just how far I have come. I can hear many of my words in my head now, such as…I still didn’t think I had a drug problem, I was still using in some form or another while at Milan, and when I told her about getting drunk, I quickly brushed off any concerns she voiced.
I had it all under control; alcohol was never my problem, so what would be the big deal if I wanted to cut loose and relieve some stress?
I wasn’t worried about the 100 series shot that could set me back 41 days and possibly send me to a higher-level facility. That punishment was overshadowed by the 120 months I just received. I still wasn’t thinking about my daughter, just like I wasn’t thinking about her in 2010 when Dacotah was pregnant, or in 2011 when Melrose was born and I was still finding excuses to keep using and selling.
Much of this behavior followed me to Yankton, even though I haven’t drank or used drugs here, I had still jeopardized my good time more than a few occasions. It’s easy to make more excuses and say I am simply coping with my incarceration, but sooner or later, you have to take a closer look at yourself.
I feel like I have come a long way since those first few visits at Milan with Kim, but I still feel like I still have a long way to go, and so much more I can do to continue to make a difference.
I am thankful that Morgan has given me that platform to start doing something now, even if we are six years late to the party, we still made it.
I want to tell Kim how much she means to me because of that gesture she made to me starting back in 2013. She didn’t have to show up. She didn’t have to say or do the things she did because even though we were cousins, we were still strangers as she lived many miles away from me growing up. We were family. I know I’m pretty fortunate in the family area and everyone doesn’t have the support that I do.
But whether you have a family member, maybe a friend, or a friend of a friend, and want to make a similar gesture, I am telling you right now it can make a world of difference to just make a simple visit or write a letter. At least it did for me. Simple gestures like that have made me want to change. And someone battling addiction has to want to change for themselves, or they will never change no matter what anyone offers to do for them.
Thanks, Kim, you’ve helped change my life. And thank you to anyone else reading this that has done what Kim has done for me.
Thanks for listening!